The writing has long been on the wall for most any textile manufacturer, but that doesn’t change the human toll that is taken when another factory shuts its doors for good.
And, even in a period where it looks like we might be coming out of the worst national recession since the Great Depression, the carnage continued this month with the news that Delta plans to close its facility in Wendell, leaving 135 people without jobs. The Delta facility, known to most people around these parts as the Cotton Exchange, had an uphill battle, operating with outdated equipment that was too expensive to upgrade.
After the company was purchased by Delta from local owners, the chances for layoffs seemed more likely. Consolidation has been a key belt-tightening strategy for many years, both in good times and bad times.
Regardless of the financial reasons behind Delta’s decision, the fact remains that, in a month or so, more than 100 of our friends, family members and neighbors will join the ranks of the unemployed. They will have to work to rebuild their lives.
And, since few of these jobs are white collar, it seems much less likely that a lot of former Delta employees will have the mobility to move where jobs might be easier to find.
Ed Morrell, who owns a share of the building where the Cotton Exchange operates, and who once owned the company, sees the potential for a rainbow among the stormclouds, pointing out that freeing up the building may offer the town an opportunity to find a higher use for the facility.
While we appreciate that optimism, it would be disingenuous not to point out that large business concerns haven’t exactly been falling all over themselves to come to Wendell.
Nevertheless, it’s going to take a cup-half-full attitude like Morrell’s for 135 people to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and start over again.
And, it’s going to take that same kind of attitude for the rest of the townsfolk to overcome the challenge of such a hurtful closure.